Friday, June 30, 2006

What's Around the Corner

I love reading predictions, even when their authors may be way out there on the edge.

An array of futurists is featured in
this Slate article. Excerpt:

Robb is no visionary. His basic take on the future is that the same historical forces that have been at work for thousands of years will still be at work, and that America won't be immune to them. The fact that street gangs in São Paulo can firebomb police stations, that Maoist guerrillas are threatening India's high-tech prosperity, and that a handful of rebels are stealing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of oil in Nigeria and Iraq all affect us directly. Living in New York or Los Angeles, it seems hard to imagine that the constant kidnappings that terrorize the rich in Mexico City will ever happen here. Then again, we never thought terrorism would happen here, either.

Several other thinkers share Robb's thoughts on techno-realism. Philip Longman, author of
The Empty Cradle, is convinced that "the comfy chair revolution" will strengthen the hand of fundamentalists worldwide. In Longman's future, the forces of reaction won't win by force of arms; they'll win by outbreeding the secular world. Then there's Barry Lynn, a former editor at the magazine Global Business and author of End of the Line. Lynn has become an unlikely anti-globalization guru by arguing that the global supply chains we count on are too fragile to survive a major shock. We're at risk whenever there's an earthquake in Taiwan, a terrorist strike in Saudi Arabia, or a power failure in Portland.

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